Spring Vegetables & Superfoods

Woman with healthy spring vegetables

Here are 5 recipes using unusual spring vegetables that are in season this spring! Variety is one of the keys to a healthy diet, so introducing new foods is something we can all benefit from and of course eating in season is also great for your health and the environment. The following spring vegetables are superfoods packed with loads of beneficial nutrients.

Jerusalem Artichokes

These strange looking knobbly root vegetables, similar in appearance to ginger roots, are related to sunflowers and actually no relation to the more familiar French (globe) artichokes. Often listed as one of the top dietary sources of prebiotics, however, not many people know what they are, let alone how to cook them! They are rich in a special type of dietary fibre called inulin, which has prebiotic properties. Prebiotics feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut, stimulating them to thrive, grow and multiply and giving you the associated health benefits. These include better digestive health, improved immunity and even benefits for your skin, weight management and mental wellbeing. Jerusalem artichokes are also a good source of regular fibre, iron and potassium.

Jerusalem-Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Wild Mushrooms

Ingredients

4 or 5 Jerusalem artichoke pieces, scrubbed and chopped into 1.5cm pieces
2 organic, free-range eggs
100g wild mushrooms (or Portobello mushrooms if you cannot find these, sliced)
60g wild rocket
Pecorino shavings
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Toss the artichokes in salt and olive oil and roast at 200°C for 30-35 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, arrange the rocket leaves on 2 plates, drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  3. Sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes in a little oil and arrange on top of the rocket leaves.
  4. Remove the artichokes from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes while you boil the eggs for 6-7 minutes, so the yolks are still slightly soft, cut into quarters, put on the plate and then pile on the artichokes.
  5. Shave some pecorino on top of this and season with black pepper and salt.

Rhubarb

This time of year sees rhubarb come into season, harvesting a more nutritious crop than the earlier ‘forced’ variety.  Actually a vegetable, rhubarb is a great source of polyphenols, including anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties and give it its characteristic red colour. Choosing the reddest stalks will ensure maximum antioxidant content for protecting you and your skin from free radical damage. Interestingly, one study found that slow-cooking and baking rhubarb actually increases the polyphenol content, so my compote recipe below is a healthy way to eat it. Rhubarb is also a great source of vitamin K and fibre. It is used traditionally in Chinese medicine for its natural laxative properties.

Spiced Rhubarb Compote

Spiced Rhubarb Compote

Ingredients

400g rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
1 orange, juice and 2 tsp of the zest
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 vanilla pod
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

Method

  1. Simply put everything in a saucepan and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  2. Serve with yoghurt and granola for breakfast, on top of porridge or layered in a chia pudding

Blood Oranges

Like the regular variety, blood oranges are a great source of vitamin C, which is needed for collagen formation in the skin and for keeping the immune system functioning well. In addition, blood oranges contain more antioxidants, including protective anthocyanins, which give them their rich crimson colour. These are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, making them great for skin, anti-ageing and overall health. Oranges are also a good source of folate, an essential B vitamin needed for healthy red blood cell formation.

Blood Orange, Poppy Seed and Almond Cake

Blood Orange, Poppy Seed and Almond Cake

Ingredients

3 Blood oranges
250g ground almonds
5 organic eggs
200g coconut sugar
50g poppy seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1 Blood orange to serve, peeled whole and thinly sliced

Method

  1. Put the oranges in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. Drain, cool, quarter, remove any pips and then blend half the mixture in a blender until smooth and chop the other half roughly.
  2. Beat the eggs and coconut sugar together, then add the two orange mixtures, ground almonds, baking powder, poppy seeds and mix well.
  3. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 1 hour at 170°C
  4. Allow to cool before removing from the tin and decorate with orange slices

Rainbow Chard

Less popular but just as nutritious as kale and spinach, rainbow chard is one of those dark leafy greens we should all be eating more of. This spring vegetable is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A, needed for new skin cell formation and maintaining skin’s ‘integrity’ (keeping it firm and damage resistant). Also provides vitamins C and K, minerals iron and magnesium, plus the antioxidant lutein, which protects the eyes. Rainbow chard also adds beautiful colour to dishes, such as this healthy pasta dish.

Spelt Pasta with Rainbow Chard

Spelt Pasta with Rainbow Chard

Ingredients

150g wholemeal spelt spaghetti
200g rainbow chard
1 lemon
Olive oil
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Parmesan to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Separate the stalks from the leaves and add the leaves to a blender with the pine nuts, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp lemon zest and a generous squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend to form a pesto.
  2. Slice the colourful stalks roughly into pieces of about ½ to 1cm and add to a pan with the garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté until they soften.
  3. Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions but giving it 1 minute less than recommended. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid and add to the pan with the garlic and chard stalks.
  4. Stir through the pesto and add some of the reserved cooking liquid to loosen it up.
  5. Cook for a minute or so, serve with grated Parmesan

Chicory

Another top source of the beneficial prebiotics mentioned above. Chicory is a spring vegetable that is high in nutrients, being a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin B5 and calcium, amongst others. Its shape makes it perfect for loading up with fillings, as an alternative to crackers or bread. I have substituted the usual mayonnaise here for avocado, which gives the same creaminess but with healthier fats and a good dose of skin loving vitamin E.

Chicory Crab Boats

Chicory Crab Boats

Ingredients

6 large chicory leaves
150g white crab meat
½ very ripe avocado, mashed well with a fork
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Pinch of paprika

Method

  1. Simply mix the crab, mashed avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl. Season to taste and then spoon into the chicory leaves.
  2. Sprinkle with paprika and serve. Easy!